How Depression Affects on Generation Z

Generation Z is not so much a term as a designation of something whole. Post-millennials have very different attitudes to life; they drink less, take far fewer drugs and depression affects in a different way. So, are they all right?

Katniss Everdeen is a fictional character from The Hunger Games trilogy who lives in a dystopian world filled with constant struggles, nightmares, battles, and survival techniques.

Murray Close/Lionsgate
Photo credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate

As such, Katniss represents the real icon of the so-called Generation Z.

What is Generation Z?

The concept is not defined precisely, but it encompasses teens born between the mid-1990s and 2000s. They already make a quarter of the entire US population and people also call them the Smartphone Generation.

The study of almost 220 thousand young people across Europe and North America found that too many teens feel pressured at school, worry about weight, and drink too much alcohol. It looks like depression is threatening the entire Gen Z cohort, but how come it suddenly became such a huge issue among youngsters? How depression affects the Smartphone Generation?

Study finds English, Welsh and Scottish 15-year-olds feel pressured at school, worry about weight and drink too much alcohol

In this post, we will thoroughly cover this mental health phenomenon and explain to you why depression hurts young people so much. Let’s take a look!

What Is Depression? Definition, Symptoms, and Types

By definition, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It’s a serious issue that strongly affects both the personal and professional life of a patient. When psychiatrists want to diagnose this type of mental disorder, they are looking for long-lasting symptoms (at least two weeks old) such as:

  • Feeling drained out and empty throughout the day
  • A depressed mental condition, particularly after waking up
  • Lack of purpose in life followed by the feeling of worthlessness and guilt
  • Not enough strength to concentrate on things you need to remember, write down, or complete
  • Not enough sleep or too much sleep every day
  • It’s hard to find interest in activities you previously considered fun and entertaining
  • Weight issues

In terms of Gen Z depression, the disorder has many other indicators that you should search for. There are dozens of signals to detect depression among youngsters, but here are some of the most frequent:

  • Physical symptoms such as stomachache, headache, fatigue, or joint pain
  • Carelessness and lack of responsibility
  • Spending days sleeping while staying awake at night
  • Drastic behavioral changes and problems in school
  • Isolating from friends and family

It takes at least five of those symptoms to be noticed in order to be diagnosed with depression, but it happens all the time among teenagers. Even some of the most popular teen celebrities are having a hard time in the attempt to overcome the feelings of depression and anxiety.

Justin Bieber is one of those young celebrities who suffered from depression and he described the problem cleverly by stating that “he just wishes everyone would be a little more compassionate.” The world is getting tougher and Gen Z members are obviously not able to adapt so quickly.

The worst thing about it is that depression comes in many different forms. We can distinguish between minor and major mental disorders of this kind, with a few very distinct types of depression:

  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), an illness that lasts more than 24 months
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, a mental condition which strongly affects teens’ everyday behavior
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Substance-induced mood disorder, caused by medications
  • Atypical conditions that include anxious distress, psychotic episodes, or catatonia

Risk Factors and Treatment Methods

There is no way to predict depression as it can be a consequence of various risk factors. Even persons who live in idyllic environments can sometimes feel the symptoms of anxiety and depression, so it’s important to learn the features which can cause this mental disorder.

First of all, there are biochemical factors where the imbalance in brain chemicals triggers depression. Secondly, genetics play a big role in this field since depression frequently occurs among several family members in a long-term perspective.

Besides that, personality is another risk factor as depression often hits individuals with a lower level of self-esteem. Such persons are mostly pessimistic and never really too sure about their actions. To put it simply, people who don’t believe in their own capabilities go through a lot of stress and often end up being depressed.

Recovering from depression isn’t easy. One of the hardest things is that you just don’t know what to expect

The fourth risk factor is environmental, which makes it the most common cause of depression among Gen Z members. Teens who are constantly exposed to scenes of violence, poverty, and misfortune can easily fall into despair.

Numerous studies already proved that the Smartphone Generation was not too optimistic about the future. According to the report, almost 80% of Generation Z members anticipate working harder than previous generations did. The future obviously doesn’t seem bright for many young individuals, which is why depression is hurting them harder than ever.

On the other side, the good thing is that depression is treatable. The National Mental Health Association announces that over 80% of people who get treatment claim it helps. In general, psychiatrists can determine three plans of action upon diagnosing patients with depression:

#1 Medicaments

It’s the obvious solution because you can use antidepressants to restore chemical balance in your brain. Leo Avery, a psychology writer at AssignmentMasters, says those medicaments don’t have any major side effects:

“Some patients experience a huge relief within the first two or three weeks. However, most of them have to take the medicine at least two or three months to recover completely.”

#2 Psychotherapy

A vast majority of teens respond well to psychotherapy. The so-called talk therapy is usually enough to cure low or mid-intensity depression, which is exactly how Ella Purnell, a Gen Z movie star, overcame her own mental disorder issues.

#3 Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

ECT is the last resort in depression treatment because it only applies to the most difficult cases of depression. In this procedure, medical practitioners send short electrical impulses to the brain in order to reignite its regular functioning.

While these three anti-depression techniques are widespread, most of the Generation Z members don’t require such a strong treatment yet. There are many other ways to deal with this issue in the early stages.

The most important thing is to seek out for help from your friends and family. Depressed teens need someone to talk to, particularly people who are ready to listen carefully. You should avoid digital media, so try to establish real-life interactions and engage in face-to-face communication.

Force yourself to go out and exercise. If you grab some fresh air regularly and take a daily dose of sunlight, you will start feeling better gradually. Keep in mind this is not a short-term process, so make sure to find a persistent and loyal follower who can monitor your behavior.

This person can help you cope with negative thinking and stop you from spending the whole day sleeping. It’s a long chain of links and you have to connect each one to overcome depression.

The Traits of the Generation Z Members

You’ve probably noticed already that people make a big buzz around the Smartphone Generation, but what makes this cohort so special and unique? Are today’s teens so much different than earlier generations, especially the Millennials?

A guide to what teens think is cool generation z
Download: A guide to what teens think is cool

It turns out they really are different in a number of ways, but we will show you only a few of those traits:

#1 Digital media consumption

The first thing that makes Gen Z extraordinary is its online behavior. While the Millennials also use social media, modern teens are even more hooked to their IT gadgets. For instance, they use dozens of social platforms simultaneously, but over a third of Gen Z members strongly believe that Facebook is for “old people.” They are constantly looking for new tools, networks, and apps because they only consume ephemeral content. There is nothing evergreen about their online preferences – they just want the content to be fresh and exciting.

#2 They prefer products over experiences

Older generations used to buy products to ensure quality experiences, but the process is turned upside-down ever since the emergence of the Smartphone Generation. Its members consider products to be genuine experiences, so they prefer buying popular stuff over unique items. For them, being like everyone else is to only way to make them feel special.

#3 Tech-savvy and competitive

A report shows that only 38% of the Generation Z employees think work-life balance is important. They think it’s much more important to develop leadership and managerial skills, and these are the traits modern recruiting platforms like CakeHR take into account when analyzing job candidates. Gen Z folks are digital natives who spend most of the day online. In their opinion, it is critical not to miss any news and updates because it’s the only way to stay competitive.

The cool factor. Boys tend to measure the “coolness” of something based on fads and friends, whereas girls determine something is cool based on how it makes them feel. Generation Z
The cool factor. Boys tend to measure the “coolness” of something based on fads and friends, whereas girls determine something is cool based on how it makes them feel.

The Smartphone Generation is obviously ambitious and goal-oriented, but how does it affect their mental health? What is the consequence of their desire to become highly competitive professionals and business leaders? The answers to these questions lie in the next paragraph.

The Impact of Depression on Gen Z

Being a youngster who already has to think about his/her life prospects is not a comfortable situation. Parents constantly supervise children, forcing them to join all kinds of groups and teams. It puts a huge pressure on young people who are too fragile to answer the challenge adequately.

Depression kicks in as a natural consequence, jeopardizing the entire generation’s mental health in the long-term perspective. We must face a simple fact that most of the teens are not thriving in a competitive environment. On the contrary, they are fading like a flower, unable to fulfill unrealistic social expectations.

For this reason, modern teens are getting more depressed day after day. The outcome is terrible because we can notice all sorts of opinions previously unrelated to the teenage generation:

Job prospects pessimism

While the members of the Generation Z are desperately trying to get their foot in the door and kickstart their careers, the fact remains that most of them are highly pessimistic about their job prospects. Gen Z kids know they will grow up working boring low-paid jobs, while some of them are even afraid of doing project-based jobs their entire lives.

Fear and anxiety

It’s hard to hear good news in the mainstream media these days. Everywhere you look, you see people discussing the issues such as terrorism, poverty, cyber attacks, and similar topics that can only make teens terrified and anxious.

Lack of trust in institutions

With all the crazy things going on in the country (and globally as well), Gen Z members can hardly trust their governments anymore. It seems like corrupt state officials are dominating the political scene, and it’s hard to find the way out of this awkward situation.

Lack of trust in global businesses

This is another consequence of depression as young people learn that international corporations don’t care about anything else but sheer profit. Corporations are more than willing to neglect human rights and destroy natural resources only to increase revenue. Since they are the largest employers, a lot of teens have two options – to sell their souls for money or to resist the tyranny and stay poor or underpaid.

Loss of moral principles

With everything we’ve stated so far, it is easy to figure out why the Smartphone Generation lost the moral compass. They don’t have role models and don’t believe in God. Nothing is sacred anymore, which is a very fertile soil for depression.


The Smartphone Generation lives in the ever-changing environment with little hopes of long-term stability and positive personal and professional prospects. It’s a huge difference compared to the Millennial and Baby Boomer lifestyle, which is why so many members of Generation Z suffer from depression.

It has become a serious medical issue among teens who are struggling to find real purpose in life. They breathe and live ephemeral content coming from social networks and don’t have quality role models to guide them through life. In such circumstances, it’s not surprising to see so many young people dealing with depression and anxiety.

This post showed you how and why depression affects Gen Z. It’s a major issue that cannot be neglected, but finding the way out is definitely going to be a painful and time-consuming process – with a happy ending, hopefully.


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